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Operation from B-29 "Fifi" at Omaha's Eppley Airfield

The SACMARC had the fortuitous opportunity to operate from the B-29 "Fifi" on Tuesday, June 24th and Wednesday, June 25th, 1997, and use amateur radio communications to educate the amateur radio community about the Confederate Air Force, the SACMARC, and the last flyable B-29 Superfortress in the world, "Fifi."

Attendees were:

  • Paul, K3FU
  • John, N4OWG
  • Peggy, NUEA
  • John, NTJQ
  • John, KA2NIC
  • Fred, KFG
  • Ray, N5SEZ
  • Larry, WPYA
  • Clay, WA6LBU

The Confederate Air Force and General Urschler were very enthusiastic about our presence. We had good media coverage, with cameramen from WOWT, Channel 6, and KPTM, Channel 42, coming out specifically to talk with us. We got some footage on 6, and a lot more footage on 42 (neither ran interviews with us, oh well...).

We chose to reactivate the former HQ SAC military recreation callsign KAIR for this operation. We had HF in the tail section (next to the observer's bubbles), and VHF voice/data under the starboard wing, and made about 50 contacts on 7.29, 14.29, 28.329, 28.429, 146.52, 147.48, and 146.94(-) MHz, operating both days. Furthest contact was Saskatchewan on 10 meters. We also had the opportunity to speak with many SAC veterans, some of whom remember the original KAIR. A few people took our literature and expressed interest in becoming amateurs.

A lot of volunteer operation effort, and donation of equipment, made this possible. In addition to the individuals above, N9XTN lent his full portable packet station, WCR donated some "soft," but still quite usable, deep-cycle marine batteries, and KGAR lent us some nice sturdy mil-spec folding tables. We had just enough equipment and manpower to make a good go of it. If we had had just a bit more, we could have been that much more effective. Of course, if we had much less than what we had, we probably could not have made it happen.

Thanks to everyone who made this possible, and put KAIR back on the air, preserving USAF and SAC communications history, publicizing the CAF B-29, and putting a good public face (including in the local mass media) on amateur radio.

Because of our effort (and the one by the individuals in North Carolina at the National Experimental Aircraft Association's "Young Eagles Day" last summer, see April QST), it's very possible that in the foreseeable future, the CAF planes will fly with a dedicated volunteer amateur radio operator on board (this according to one of the CAF pilots, KB5RTY).

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